In his article for The National, journalist Tommy Sheppard sheds light on the plight of Kurds in Turkey, particularly in light of recent municipal elections. He highlights the case of Abdullah Zeydan, a pro-Kurdish MP, whose election victory was overturned, sparking protests. Sheppard emphasises the broader campaign of political repression against Kurdish representation and calls for international attention to human rights abuses in Turkey.


Turkey seems the perfect destination to go on holiday, to be “capricious and carefree”, but for those living there as a minority, particularly Kurds, the reality is unfortunately very different, writes Tommy Sheppard in an article for Scottish daily The National.

Sheppard draws attention to the recent municipal elections in the country, where Kurds were “expected to do well, not only in Eastern areas where they are the majority population but in major cities where they represent the principal opposition to President Erdoğan’s ruling AKP party”.

He focuses on the much-publicised case of Abdullah Zeydan, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party MP elected in Van, eastern Turkey, who was disbarred immediately after receiving 55 percent of the votes. The Turkish Ministry of Justice soon replaced Zeydan with the AKP candidate, who had received only 27 percent.

The international media soon began reporting on this move, covering the protests and clashes after election officials overturned Zeydan’s victory. “It’s hard to imagine any government so blatantly overturning an election result in this way,” Sheppard states.

After two days of protests, Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) overturned the Van Provincial Electoral Board’s decision, reinstating Zeydan of the (DEM) Party as the mayor of Van. In Sheppard’s view, “This most egregious attempt to subvert a local election has been thwarted.”

In his article, the journalist mentions the widespread allegations of fraudulent voter registrations, but mentions how they are “very much the soft end of a campaign of political repression against Kurdish representation which has being going on for decades”.

The reason that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been listed as a terrorist organisation by much of the Western world was “to keep Turkey as a Nato ally”, Sheppard argues. However, “international courts have ruled that this did not follow international standards of due process”.

Weighing up all that Kurds have endured, Sheppard concludes by saying that it is time for the Scottish government and others to join the calls for the release of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned PKK leader, and to “stop turning a blind eye to the serial human rights abuses in Erdoğan’s Turkey”.

Tommy Sheppard’s full article for The National can be read here.